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The Internet is full of lists; end-of-year, top 10s, top 20s and 25s, often just a collection of line items laid bare, sometimes hyperlinked, sometimes not, and it's often left to the reader to do their own research. The Internet is also full of opinions (and we know what gets said about those), and it's made it way too easy to surf in, say your bit, and beat a hasty retreat, without laying down any sufficient backup data.
With music, I get it, a list is a list is a list—you have the artist name, the release title, and if you like what I like in general, you may already know about it and agree, if not, you'll look it up when time allows. But with film, there's way too many "authorities" out there, who do little more than hand out a bare-bones plot description, call it a review, call it "writing," and I think it's a big part of the reason people say, "Another film list, great. Haven't seen one of those in 5 minutes!" There's a lot of crappy, tossed-off film commentary online, and in some cases it completely sidesteps what I think is the very critical element of WHY this writer liked this film. Film criticism is the place for opinion, a more-than-apropos venue to make it personal; but here in the USA, where we're used to getting a heavy slant in our news media, with maybe, if we're lucky, a side dish of factual information, it's all ass-backwards. I'll continue to work against this tide, with gratitude to those whose pay attention, read instead of skim, and have looked forward to these film lists of mine for however many years I've been doing them.
When I looked at my notes for this year, one common element became abruptly apparent—women. Almost all the films on my list featured a female protagonist, in many cases also an antagonist, and I found this striking, both for the indicated shift in cinematic storytelling (especially in genre and horror stories), as well as the impossible-to-ignore lack of a significant other in my own life, a void that becomes more gaping with time, which may have led me to "favorite" these excellent tales of the female—in power, in conflict, in subjugation and in madness.
King Kelly (2012) - This movie gets billed as a drama, but to me it's a thriller, as horrific as any genre film, and maybe that's because I remember a time before the online world filtered, dictated, and straight-up controlled our daily existence. It's an ultimate indictment of the look-at-me generation, where more than ever, women are worshipped solely for their appearance, for "hot pics," where Instragram likes matter infinitely more than the ability to make good conversation. Whether women are more, or less empowered by these circumstances is arguable, and a topic for a whole other post. King Kelly is a webcam girl—the focus of modern, straight-male idolatry—and in her self-crafted universe, which extends into the physical world almost immediately in this harrowing piece of hand-cam cinema, she's for sure empowered, if not in control; like a steamroller with no driver, Kelly creates havoc and destruction for all who hover near her flame. She's just trying to be the hot girl, get some shit done, while engaging in some moderate-to-severe manipulation, and it all flies horribly and tragically out of control. Some may laugh as this movie; I found it to be anxiety-inducing entertainment, loaded with a mounting paranoia. In the Cold War era, we had The Manchurian Candidate, in the Internet age, standards duly lowered, we have King Kelly, and her potential for casual, callous trampling on human life; for me, more frightening, and less comprehensible, than Frank Sinatra's hypnotized assassin. King Kelly is all too real, and just a click away.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) - A bit older, but new to Netflix, this is going to seem at first like a very standard, teens-on-holiday-getting-picked-off-one-by-one B movie, but don't be fooled. The plot thickens rapidly, like social tar, and I'm perhaps giving away a minor spoiler to say that there is no outside killer, no masked, machete-wielding antagonist preying on innocents, but that's a change for the better. Mandy Lane and her "friends" are far from blameless cannon fodder, and again we find ourselves in the midst of a bitter, no-punches-pulled indictment of American youth, twisting and perverting their entitlement into scheming, murderous intent. What seems at first like some light competition over the girl voted most crushworthy, spins rapidly into a classic tragedy, with a body count to rival Hamlet. My own son is now just entering his teenage years, making this more-than-it-appears tale of twisty teen murder all the more palpable and provocative to me personally.
Alyce Kills (2011) - Get ready to leap forward a near-generation, as Alyce is Mandy Lane and King Kelly's big sister, a New York City girl of opportunity, who gets a taste for homicide. The city is unnerving, shaking to the core, even (or especially) for a pretty white girl—it's competitive, and riddled with constant temptation to bad behavior. In NYC, there are more reasons to spin deliciously and unrepentantly out of control than to maintain even the appearance of doing the right thing, and Alyce's fall is as grandiose and fascinating to watch as it is inspirational. Having not lived in the city since 1998, I'm now what film writer Thom Andersen would call a "low tourist," in that I delight in depictions of my former home's flaws and hypocrisies. Alyce kills, indeed she does, but she's also a heroine, a "fuck it" icon, for those who know firsthand how NYC can hammer any semblance of a moral code out of a person. One of my favorites on this list.
Nymph()maniac (2013) - Lars Von Trier has once again made a film I can sink my teeth into, after a few films where, as a fan of his work generally, he lost me, with stories too figurative, symbolic and esoteric to have much impact. I like Von Trier at his most gritty, critical and mean-spirited, and to call his films "sexist" is an oversimplification that entirely misses the point; the men come off no better, often worse, and Von Trier at his best is holding up an unflinching mirror, saying "this is how shitty we are, look at how we treat each other." In my view, the director must worship women, because he can't keep himself from telling obsessive stories about them. Charlotte Gainsbourg absolutely shines, as does Uma Thurman (in one brief but intense scene), while the male characters in Nymph()maniac, though crucial to the story flow, are scummy, transparent wallpaper, not worthy of the complexity and gut-wrenching humanity of Von Trier's women. If anything, the director hates MEN, and I felt shame, even horror, at my own fellows, while watching this epic of human degradation. And is Gainsbourg's sex maniac a victim by chance or a victim by choice? A bit of both, provocative enough to have the film scholars flapping about what this film "means" for decades.
Escape (Flukt) (2012) - The literal translation of this film's Norwegian title is Flight, and fly it does, an action / adventure depiction of the struggle between two women; one a teenage girl, grappling for survival after witnessing the barbaric slaughter of her parents and younger brother, the other a Norse warrior woman, brutal and possessed by forward movement and survival in its rawest form, with a tragic, dark past of her own. Capturing the teen, the warrior, fiercest in her band (comprised otherwise of formidable males), intends to use the girl as breeding stock, and as one might imagine, the girl does anything and everything to escape her fate as the tribe baby maker. Such ensues a ragged pursuit through pre-industrial Norway, over land and water, arrows and rocks flying, bodies falling, and that's the movie. Simple, but not predictable, and raucously engaging.
The Machine (2013) - All films, genre / sci-fi stories especially, should inhabit their own, idiosyncratic world of production design, and The Machine does this with stunning accomplishment—the computers, comm systems, labs, and the titular android itself—all impressive, and quite second nature to the film's character inhabitants. I think of The Machine as a sister film to Beyond the Black Rainbow, if only for their shared moody framing, and roots in 70s sci-fi classics, all achieved with a comparatively small budget to the CGI-dominated blockbusters. In brief, a team of talented AI scientists is broken apart when the woman, a new hire, is assassinated by higher ups for spying; the man, in his grief and frustration with their cruel, crooked bosses at the MOD, designs a powerful AI android, The Machine, with the likeness and basic personality profile of his dead colleague. (He hadn't time to fall in love with her, though he almost certainly would have.) A struggle between the altruistic scientist, his machine, and the evil government ensues, a familiar theme for sure, but this story is done with incredibly meticulous camera work, script, and design; not a single shot is wasted, and the film is engrossing from scene one, and never stops to breathe. A remarkable accomplishment for a first-Internationally-distributed feature, and I can't wait to see what director Caradog James does next.
Perhaps, after a solid month of Christmas music, you're now thoroughly Binged, Burled, Perryed and Thurled out (although I personally wonder if anyone could really get Thurled out...).
Well, here is a set of three Christmas records I'm guessing you haven't heard before. At least two appear to be vanity releases, and the third is on a Chicago label which may have been tiny enough for that release to also be something of a vanity production.
First up is our old friend Harold Duncan, last heard around these parts singing his patriotic tune "Be American". This record came out on the "American Sound" label, which I suspect was Duncan's label, as "Be American was on the same label".Mr. Duncan was from south Florida, and appears to have made a variety of attempts to break into the music business, judging from the number of times I've discovered his name turning up on an obscure record or piece of sheet music. Of the four records I own that have a direct Duncan connection, his Christmas concoction is by far the worst, in both composition and execution.
The song is called "Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney (Upside Down)", and it is just as stupid as that title suggests. But the problems only start there. Mr. Duncan enlisted a group called "The Rusch Sisters" to sing this song, and its flip side, and they are, simply put, unbearable. They sing in what I suppose is supposed to be a cutesy style (perhaps even supposed to sound like young girls), at times at the upper end of their ranges. Ecch.
Worse yet is that flip side, "Rudolph Stopped to Rock 'n Roll", particularly the bridge, where they very nearly squeal on the high notes. The fact that the backing has nothing in common with " Rock 'n Roll" certainly doesn't help.
My copy of this record came with a similarly self-produced book, complete with a drawing of Santa in the chimney, and the sheet music of the song inside. When I find that book, I'll add that image to this post.
Given my love of song-poems, I'm quite intrigued by this next offering. Credited to "The Ping Pongs", it contains two Christmas tunes as well, "Pinky Tail" and "The Things I'd Like for Christmas",. While I can't find anything that makes it clear to me that this is a song-poem, it sure looks and sounds like one to me. I'm sure that, at the very least it is, as I've mentioned, a vanity project.
But the label (Sunkist Records) looks like any number of small song-poem spin-off outfits, the label number (102) indicates this is one of the first discs on the label, and the performances sound like a song-poem group - specifically, it sounds like the less-than-enthused group which showed up on many of Norridge Mayhams later projects (the melody of "Things I'd Like" actually sounds quite a bit like a couple of Mayhams' songs), a group I believe came out of the Globe Records song-poem emporium.
Regardless of the back-story, these songs are an interesting listen, with a tossed off feeling and homespun instrumentation.
Finally, out of Chicago's small IRC label (most famous, if that's the word, for releasing Dick Biondi's "Pizza Song", and some of Ronnie Rice's earliest records), comes the fabulously named "Leonard at the Thomas Organ", with a misbegotten attempt to glom onto the success of the Chipmunks, although whoever is doing the sped-up vocal goes completely unacknowledged on the record label.
Unfortunately, no one told the performers or producers of this record that if you're going to record at half-speed for comical effect, you have to enunciate extremely clearly, nor did they learn that whatever you're singing while doing that enunciation needs to be funny.
I had to slow this track down to half-speed to figure out all of what was being sung, and once I did, I could make out all the words, but I still couldn't figure out what was supposed to be cute, funny or endearing about a very pedestrian description of some not very interesting events. Actually, I get a kick out of the billing of the performer (see above) and the extraneous quotes in the song title more than I do out of the song. It's listed as "Cross-Eyed 'Little' Santa Claus".
The flip is an instrumental titled "Jingle Jam".
For those who might like more obscure Christmas music, I've been featuring Christmas song-poems all month at my own site.
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"How many times have you seen a ghost story on television? Did it leave you frightened, fearful
that ghosts really exist? Of course it didn't . . . Yet, could you really be sure? Perhaps this tale will change your mind, for you are about to witness the real-life results of the spine-chilling stories told on . . . Station G.H.O.S.T!"
Another excerpt from today's selections:
"Roger Dorn loved beautiful music - - but not when the hands that played it were those of a man he had murdered!"
Ok, well, there's also this to look forward to on our banquet today:
"It was a novel idea . . . This dance on the large native drum! Patrons crowded the exclusive New York night club to see the famous Annette perform! But as the exotic dancer's feet began tapping out a rhythmic tattoo, strange things commenced happening . . .Horrible, unearthly things! And the giant Haitian tom-tom became a drum of doom!"
Yes, as you can see, we have four stories from the dark side of music and entertainment today, including a dance of doom to go with that drum of doom, either way there's plenty of accursed doom to go around for everyone in our bounty of comic book sickness this week at the WFMU Comic Supplement! Take your seat and dig in - right after the jump!
So imagine it's the fall of 1966, and, since you and your family have recently moved to the new high-end subdivision, you want to get to know your neighbors better. What better why than hosting a dinner party, after which you'll play a game? Perhaps you'll invite the neighbors on either side of you, and the those from the three houses on lots that are across from yours and those other two neighbors! And next Friday, the kids will all be at the school dance!
But the real fun will come after dinner, when you break out that album you bought over the summer, the one you got as soon as you heard about it back in July, the one on the Frisky record label, featuring everyone's favorite quizmasters, Phyllis Hedeman, James Dukas and Jerry Roberts, "NAME THAT TRIVIA!". It came with even answer pads for everyone, see?:
You've touched the needle down on the record just to see if the questions are too hard or too easy, but they seem just right for people of your vintage. Things like:
"Remember 'Pebeco'? What would you do with it?"
"what was that chased away that villian, 'Mr. Coffee Nerves'?"
"What was a Hooverville?".
This sounds like a LOT of fun! Here's hoping your party goes well!
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Today's reel is for anyone who enjoyed the tapes I shared, featuring audio letters from an army doctor in the Korean, shortly after the end of the war, to his wife back home, and who wondered whatever happened to that man after he left Korea, and after his career was over. Those audio letters were featured over the last three years, and can be found here, here and here.
It may also be of interest to anyone who wants a look at how one might have documented a road trip halfway across the country, in days long before such things were easily transmitted online, in real time.
Specifically, here is that same army doctor (fully identified in the tape, but I'll just call him Bill, as he always identified himself on the Korea tapes), 13 years after the tapes I previously shared, taking a road trip with his wife, Mary, in the spring of 1967, from their small home township of Mount Holly, New Jersey to the tiny burg of Gorman, Texas, where they were going to visit their newborn great-granddaughter.
As mentioned, the full name of these people can be made out multiple times, as can the names of several family members and in-laws. Those interested in finding out who they were, and more about them, can probably succeed in doing so. I'd be interested in hearing those results,
Oddly, for a man who was able to fill tape after tape of (usually interesting) minutia from his life in Korea, Bill's narration here, recorded on each night of their trip, after their arrival in a hotel, is quite brief - he's downright taciturn. Typically, he turns the recording over to his wife Mary, who fills in a few details, but rarely all that much, either, aside from the weather, details of the town they stopped in, and what they ate. It takes all of 13 minutes to get through the nightly recordings between New Jersey and Texas.
Once there, for what is said to be a planned few days, there are several segments recorded (totalling 18 minutes) with a variety of relatives and in-laws, At one point, Bill turns to the microphone over to one of the in-laws, and instead of hearing that person speak, there is a lengthy gap, and suddenly it's more than a week has gone by, and Bill briefly mentions a family tragedy that led to that gap. Later, there is a perhaps overly long recording of the baby crying fairly harshly and loudly. Then it's time to be heading back home.
The trip back home is covered in more detail (23 minutes) than the trip to Texas had been. This leads off with far more detail regarding why Mary's stay in Texas lasted several days longer than planned, and where Bill was all that time.
With the possible exception of the first night's recording from the trip home, it's pretty clear to me that Bill and Mary took notes, and actually recorded much (if not all) of this narration late in the trip home, if not after they arrived home. There's little difference in the sound quality from segment to segment, and at one point, Bill accidentally states that he's signing off from a town in Indiana - except that they've been claiming to be in Missouri for the entire segment, and if he'd really been taping that night, he'd have had no idea that bad weather would be keeping them from getting beyond Indiana the following day.
Bill's narration remains brief, and Mary sounds like she's reading directly from notes, ones which are missing words - she occasionally speaks in incomplete sentences, particularly skipping over articles (i.e. "drove along highway"). She does, however, have a lot more details to share here, and her story of going to an over-the-road oasis on a toll road, and thinking that their car had been stolen afterwards is pretty funny. There's a real homespun feel to much of what she describes here, especially some visits to see relatives on the road home.
And again, at the end, without a break, we suddenly learn that her final narration was being recorded several weeks later, making me wonder if the whole thing was done after-the-fact.
I hope you've enjoy this little road trip from 47 1/2 years ago. I wonder if Bill and Mary ever imagined that, in the 21st century, strangers from all over the world would have the ability to listen to their audio road trip.
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"The jam session was like a strange, new world to me! The savage, rhythmic beat of the drums had us all in a dreamy hypnotic trance! But the beating of my heart rose above the drums as Guy's arm stole around me!"
(from "My Jazz-Time Romance")
Today we have a pretty varied assortment of treats for you, everything from some pretty silly funny-animal and kid's comics, to a very wordy adult romance book; and all dealing with some facet of music or other. Stay tuned after the JUMP for four short stories sure to make you bop!
By 1966 Billy Gray's Band Box was an empty relic of showbiz past. The entertainment industry was changing like everything else in the 1960s and old school nightclubs were dying. In its final year Billy Gray stepped down and the hosting duties were taken over by a beleaguered road comic named Sammy Shore. He took note of Gray's multiple-comedian idea and decided to implement the concept at a nightclub of his own called The Comedy Store.
I 'm just kicking myself that I didn't come across this record prior to the elections last week, because I think this record could have turned the tide and resulted in something much better than what ended up happening last Tuesday.
This is a record out of Rockford, Illinois, apparently dating from 1968. This date is based on the introduction on side one of the single, by Samuel Shapiro, who introduces himself as the Governor of Illinois, a position he held for just under eight months, nearly all of that term in 1968.
The performer is Pete Quinto, and he certainly is gung-ho in his get-out-the-vote performance, particularly in the last chorus, when both he and the trombone player behind him get quite stirred up and exuberant.
I've also included the flip side, which is lacking the spoken introduction, and which appears to be an instrumental, until that final chorus, when the vocal comes in again.
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"The desire to gain retribution is one of the strongest of human passions, actually capable of transcending the grave itself! As it did when Henri Marleau heard a murdered man play his ... Death Song!"
"Dr. Hormone, world's greatest scientist, goes to Washington to defend his country against imminent invasion by Nazia. With him are his his granddaughter, Jane, and his bodyguard - the Five Fleamen."
Just two samples of some of the timeless prose that we have to serve you today in the WFMU Comic Supplement! We will kick off with two short pre-comics-code horror tales from the early 1950s, and then hop in the WABAC machine to visit early 1941 and some very peculiar characters from the title Popular Comics.
Feast your eyes on some choice four-color madness, right after the jump!
Here's a nice little five inch reel of tape, containing some of the work by the William D. Cunningham & Associates, Inc., Company, whose promo reel for voice talent I featured four years ago. The dates for these various ads, based on some of the products featured (and the presence of a Bicentennial ad) would appear to be in the 1974-1977 range.
In many places, this reel has the ads literally back to back, with one starting as the previous one ends, so I haven't attempted to separate them out - you can hear them below as they were intended to be presented - a blast of 18 examples of the "Producer's Music Service" (as it's called on the box), in just under 15 minutes.
Some ads are just music beds, others have introductory and closing vocals with music beds in between, and others are full singing ads. Some are brief, others don't conform to the typical 60-minutes-at-most rule (the Jet Ski ad runs over 90 seconds).
The individual tracks are listed in the scan to the right.
I wish I could get some of that Carbonated Kool-Aid.
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"Yeow! He's no ordinary fiddler! He knows the destructive power of certain musical notes!"
Today brings us back to a peculiar super-hero who operated from 1942 to 1945, and was handled by such great talents as Bill Everett and Jimmy Thompson. Due to the application of a strange Egyptian flute, he can use any sound vibration (and particularly musical vibrations) to travel at the speed of sound to the scene of crime and nefarious activity, and also occasionally fashion weapons from sound. His first 14 stories were covered in a previous post here: http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2014/08/the-adventures-of-music-master-1942-1945.html and now we'll be looking over the final five stories (there are actually six, but one is not available), beginning in September 1944.
Join us for the finale of this oddball character from the Golden Age - right after the jump!
In the early 1960's, the PAMS company, famous for (among other things) radio jingles, offered up the "My Home Town" project. For a fee, a business could purchase the PAMS track "My Home Town", with lyrics written about the purchaser's town, perhaps containing a plug for the company paying for the song. Dozens of these songs were produced, mostly for radio stations, but I know of at least a few (including today's example) produced for other local businesses. Most were the exact same, 1:35 or so version (although a few have an extra, looped verse in the backing track), most were sung by a singer variously identified as Terry Lee, Terry Lee Jenkins, Claire Stewart and other names, and most featured an instrumental big band styled version of the tune on the flip side.
You can find dozens of examples of the song posted all over the place, including one version I particularly enjoy (due to some funny lyrics) that was posted to the original 365 days project in 2003.
Finding another one of these My Home Town records is hardly enough reason to post it - they're nearly all quite similar. But this one has a fun and interesting difference that I think makes it worth sharing. This record, "Lexington, My Home Town", is one of the few which was not produced on behalf of a radio station. Instead, local meat producers Elm Hill Meats paid for the record. But the difference here is that after the PAMS tune fades out, it is followed on the A side by a song called "Elm Hill Bill". The first-person aspect of this song is sort of destroyed by the fact that the singer is identified as George Morgan (a member of the Grand Ole Opry). The fact that it runs about 57 seconds makes me wonder if this was also a radio commercial.
The singer is NOT identified on this record, and she sounds a bit different to me than the standard singer (Terry Lee) heard on most of the My Home Town records). Because she's not named, I've just identified the artist as PAMS, and have also included the ubiquitous instrumental b-side.
Incidentally, Elm Hill Meats also paid for the My Home Town record representing Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the song was again paired with the Elm Hill Bill jingle. Can one have two home towns, and feel that both are the best place in the world?
Elm Hill Meats, by the way, eventually merged with another company to form Family Brands, and has since become but one named brand owned by a larger corporation. You can read about that here.
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"Sally loved working in a radio station, and she loved Hugh Clancy, the stations leading disc jockey, until that fateful day when her hopes for a career and a beautiful romance crashed and shattered at her feet..."
You'll thrill, you'll cry, you'll rock to the beat of today's two nutty music-influenced comic book tales. We'll prove again that radio and romance don't mix!
Well, I goofed up last time and didn't get my post for the blog completed on schedule, so here we go with another try!
First up, we'll warm up with a short tale of the Vigilante from December 1950, which involves a "ballad about an imaginary buckaroo" and the radio broadcasts thereof, followed by a romance tale based at a radio station, along with all of the heartache that that naturally entails!
Some very tight and slick 1950s comic book art on display this week - right after the jump!
Here's a fascinating little piece of recording tape. It is a recording made by a man coming to the end of his service in Vietnam, to his sweetheart in America. I've dated it as 1968, which is the earliest date possible, but it could be from a bit later.
I initially copied this into my computer as "Letter from a Soldier", but since his only reference to his actual service is to the Navy, I've referred to the speaker as a Sailor.
Much of the tape consists of expressing potential plans for the future, words of love to his darling, praise and inspirational thoughts for her, and these are the things that I think make this tape such a find, and such a fascinating (and sweet) listen.
But it actually seems to start mid thought, regarding his upcoming honorable discharge. While it sounds like perhaps the beginning of the tape has been lost, that doesn't appear to be the case, as the material you hear here actually begins about two minutes into the start of the tape. He mentions having contracted something called "Vericolor" (anyone know what this is???), and that this is leading to his discharge. He then mentions his plan to attend college in Colorado.
Then, about three minutes into this 16 minute tape, he turns his attention to his girl, their relationship, and their future. Aside from a few comments, I'll let you discover the charms and surprises of this tape yourself, but I did get a kick out of how the language he uses, flowery at times, slang-filled at others, just screams out "Late 1960's".
And that's clearly the case. He mentions having recently seen the film "Charly", which was released in 1968, and briefly sings a bit of "Dedicated to the One I Love", in a style closer to the 1967 version by the Mamas and Papas, than to the Shirelles original. Oddly, he does mention having just heard the 1965 hit "Eve of Destruction" for what seems to have been the first time, and I can't quite reconcile that with the rest of the dating here, but "Charly" clearly places this at 1968 or later.
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Senn High School, in the Edgewater Community of Chicago, is an imposing building that looks every moment of its 101 years old. As you drive through the surrounding area, which is filled with apartments and condos seemingly filling every available space, coming to an intersection and seeing this huge school come into sight for the first time can be quite an experience, something akin to drving through ten blocks of nearly identical bungalows, turning a corner, and finding yourself in front of the White House.
For the 1959-1960, a group of students - perhaps those involved in the Yearbook, put together an audio documentary of the school year. Other schools were, of course, starting to do the same thing around this time, and I own several of these, most of which were on 10" LP's - by the mid '60's, they tended to be full 12" LP's. But the folks at Senn limited themselves (or were limited for other reasons) to a seven inch, 33 1/3 RPM release, with five-plus minutes on one side, and seven minutes on the other.
The record hits most of the high points featured on those longer versions produced by other schools, just in more abridged fashion - the sports teams (team final records not mentioned), band performances, prom, graduation, and, in this case, the talent show. Listening to the Talent Show highlights, it's not clear to me why they didn't, instead, just mount a full production of "West Side Story".
Travel back in time with me now, to the school year of 1959-1960 at Senn High School!
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"Sally loved working in a radio station, and she loved Hugh Clancy, the station's leading disc jockey, until that fateful day when her hopes for a career and a beautiful romance crashed and shattered at her feet..." (Sha-do-be / Shattered Shattered)
Thus spins the drama and the records in one of our three 1950s comic book offerings today, two from the 1950 comic Exciting Life Stories of Famous Stars, and the wonderfully radio-centric tale above from an issue of Cinderella Love.
A tasty trio of beautifully-drawn and romantic musical yarns on display for you right after the jump!
These are a bit unusual in the world of demo tapes. Virtually all demo reels I've heard have a single purpose, usually one of three. They are either to display someone's singing talent, perhaps to sell him or her as a performer worthy of signing or hiring to perform live, to demonstrate the songs themselves for someone who might want to perform them, or to market the commercial voice-over (or singing) potential of the performer, in order to seel him or her as a commercial voice artist.
The JW tapes seem to combine the first and third of these purposes, with song excerpts alternating with full commercials that the singer had done (the selling of the songs themselves seems unlikely, given that no complete songs are heard, and that at least one of these is a very familiar (former hit) song).
The songs are generally nothing to get worked up about, although a few of them have promise. My guess is that it is the commercials here (most of which are complete) which will be the attraction. A lot of them are quite fun. One thing that's interesting to me about the commercials selected is that "JW" is not always a solo start on them, or even clearly discernible from other vocalists.
The first of the two tapes heard here is labeled circa 1967, runs about six minutes, and contains the following tracks, as labeled on the box:
1.) Must Be Love (song excerpt)
2.) Out of Love (song excerpt)
3.) Junket (ad for Fudge)
5.) 'Cause I Was Mad (song excerpt - my favorite one on either tape - love the echo!)
6.) Polka Dot Pigs (Crispy Critters cereal ad)
7.) I Hear a Melody (song excerpt)
8.) Losin' Heart (song excerpt)
9.) KLRD ("here's the time" radio jingle)
The second tape is labeled 1975, runs about 9 1/2 minutes, and contains the following tracks, as labeled on the box:
1 & 2.) Cougar (two ads: A. Final, and B. Fever (i.e. in the style of the song "Fever"))
3.) Hunts (sauce ad)
4.) Oo La La (Air France ad? - can't make out if that's what she says or not!)
5.) Little Blue Star (song excerpt)
6.) I Knew (song excerpt)
7.) Wedding Bell Blues (song excerpt)
8.) Please Stay (song excerpt)
9.) Pokla Dot Pigs (same track as on the 1967 tape)
10.) (Title is Illegible on Box) (song excerpt)
11.) Sky Bar (candy bar ad - and it's great to hear an ad for the mighty Sky Bar - haven't had one in YEARS!)
12.) When I Am With You (song excerpt)
13.) Munch (Post Toasties ad)
14.) Sugar Pops (cereal ad)
15.) Are You Early (the same jingle identified as "KLRD" on the earlier tape, minus the final stinger)
Incidentally, I do have more of these tapes - these are labeled # 2 and # 6. If there is interest, I can post them. Assuming, that is, that I can find them in the catacombs - these two got separated from the bunch, and I'm not sure where the others are.
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Today brings one of my annual preparing-for-vacation-trip posts, with a dash of comics for kids (we'll get back to the second part of our Music Master series next time). First, some Pixies, from their fourth comic book, issued in 1947. This one caught my eye recently because of a mention I read about a scene from this book that was censored in a later reprinting. Well, that had to be something worth a look, and we'll see a couple of highlights from this odd comic book to open our post, followed by a really nutty Captain Marvel story from 1948 that also tickled my fancy. Just some light reading today, to break up the 'harder' stuff that I have lined up for future posts. Join me for some surrealism and insect fun after the jump!
Here’s an album with virtually no redeeming qualities. I say “virtually” because there is a argument to be made for making this sort of thing known, in an historical context, the same way we can use the written and filmed records of prior atrocities to be more aware of similar threats in our midst going forward.
The record sleeve that the album came in is a piece of work, too:
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